“Rashard Freeman Teenage Entrepreneur” is the second and latest book by Orangeburg’s own Zachary Middleton.

In this book, he’s looking to inspire interest in financial literacy and entrepreneurship in a fictional fashion with the characters being people of color.

“I always wrestle with the fact that there was not a lot of representation, ethnic minority representation. I just seemed like whenever I saw the minorities represented in that sort of genre, they weren’t always dynamic, intelligent, deep thinking, that sort of thing,” Middleton said.

“I came up with a series where I wanted the young people in the novel to not just solve detective mysteries, but I wanted them to solve entrepreneurial problem solving and so that’s the goal,” Middleton said.

This is coming after his first book “Running After Delano,” which was historical fiction based on the nephew of one of the Orangeburg Massacre victims, the late Delano Middleton (Zachary’s grand uncle). 

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He has taken lessons from creating that first book.

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“First thing I’m learning is formatting. I think my biggest mistake last time is I did not format or I didn’t go to an outside source to actually format the words that are in the book. I take it as a learning lesson, so I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” Middleton said.

“Hopefully, if there was another opportunity to put a particular book together, I’ll do it differently. I keep it there so that I can help the next generation who wants to write. Be able to show them, hey, this is how you do it, this is where you go,” Middleton said.

The other two lessons Middleton learned were his needing to reach out publicly and getting over the mental hurdles of creating a book.

“I think two is you have to actively reach out to human beings and talk to people individually if you’re a new author. You have to actively reach out to people when you want to launch,” Middleton said.

“The third thing, I think the biggest thing you learned from writing your first book, is that you can do it. It’s not as daunting, it’s not, it’s not as intimidating,” Middleton said.

He wants this current book to teach about finances, something that he has had interest in since his youth, but do it with a storytelling spin.

 “I think that this resource would have helped me when I was a kid who also, as I got older, I realized there’s a lot of resources out there on financial literacy, how to budget,” Middleton said.

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“They’re not as many on what are some good ideas if I want to produce or if I want to start something new. I thought, fiction is one of my favorites and it’s a cool opportunity to kind of blend those passions,” Middleton said.

He’s planned to have each chapter have teachable entrepreneurial lessons in them. Some of them being about marketing, accounting and building a network.

“All of these things are actual lessons, kind of like an entrepreneurship one-on-one course. I think people digest it better as a story,” Middleton said.

“I think the thing that I’m most excited for is, I think it’s an original expression. Rashard Freeman is an original interaction with this particular genre. It is something that’s really cool,” Middleton said.

“I think, there is a faith component of it. I’m a vocational minister. I want people to at least interact with the Christian faith. I tried to separate it as much as I could,” Middleton said.

Middleton owns a company called Grace to Cultivate LLC, which is his brand used to generate positivity and greater good, according to the business’ website.

Middleton loved the entire process of creating the book just to show how it doesn’t take a large undertaking or investment to create and complete a project and own a business.

Another thing he’s excited for is the opportunity to educate. He wants the opportunity to spark ideas and creativity in the entrepreneurial and financial space for those who read it. He calls it the “ingredients game.”

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“There’s a part of the book I talk about the ingredients game. What that means is that I think the goal of learning isn’t just copy and paste. The goal of learning is how I can take the ingredients of what you’re doing and from those ingredients, make new recipes. I think that’s what education looks like,” Middleton said.

He has another takeaway for readers. He calls it the “Rashard and Tina” challenge, being named after two of the main characters in the story. The challenge is for readers who are still in school to apply for as many scholarships as they can.

“That is one of the first tools in a young person’s toolkit if you will, is that you can apply for as many scholarships as you want. Most people don’t take enough time to do that,” Middleton said.

The book “Rashard Freeman Teenage Entrepreneur” was to be released on Martin Luther King Jr. day, Jan. 16. Find it at gracetocultivate.com or Amazon.

Terry Benjamin II, a Claflin University mass communications senior, is reporting for The Times and Democrat as a Lee Enterprises-sponsored news-sports intern.

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